Some people consider this time to refer to both morning and evening but for me it has always been evening---that special quiet time for contemplation before taking on the full cloak of night.
I do not have many moments to enjoy the blue hour these last few years, but if Doyle is going to cook dinner he chases me out to enjoy a moment to myself at every opportunity.
I find my thoughts drifting back years ago when the Blue Hour would signal a different set of events for me, where I had to take notice of my surroundings for self-preservation, back when I worked nights, how I would watch the night come stealing on, covering the imperfections of the cityscape and under either starlight or moonlight render it enchanting as a night fairy land or as sinister as a noir film, as my public transportation took me further and further away from the safety of my home and into the darkness, and bit by bit I would see the denizens of the night slowly emerge out of their personal caves.
Drunks clinging to their bag hidden bottles, laughing, crying or fighting over the last drop of liquid warmth that will bring about some sort of oblivion to their inner torment, hanging around a liquor store in the hopes someone will buy them a large can of beer or better yet, cheap gut-burning whisky.
The homeless ones dragging their pitiful possessions in captured shopping carts, some talking to invisible companions or demons, circling those same carts like old west wagons against the elements, trying to be invisible to the cops or something worse, some perhaps fortunate enough to have a real companion or two for protection against those who would seek to harm them out of a perversely evil sense of “fun”.
Druggies and the drug dealers furtively making deals, debating the quality of goods or the price, the dealers their hands on hidden guns or knives if the mark doesn’t come up with the money, their partners in crime on the watch for “5-O” (cops), being prepared to scatter if “5-O” is spotted, not realizing that “5-O” is undercover making the buy and preparing to do the sting. If they are lucky to not be arrested that night to furtively duck into an abandoned building sitting among the debris of old chairs and urine soaked mattresses to drift off into their drugged filled Nirvana of dreams they will never achieve.
Streetwalkers wearing shorts and skimpy tops that show too much of their dubious wares, walking on impossibly high platform shoes that painfully cramp their feet, their eyes darting here and there looking for a prospective John, the pimps in their “flash cars”, dressed in their “flash clothes” watching their “goods”, the Johns’ slowly driving by looking for a prospective but cheap “date”.
Cops appearing out of no-where in pairs to apprehend or lending assistance or to tell drunks, druggies, street walkers and their pimps to move on, seeing them spinning a “perp” against their vehicle or wall while they put the ‘cuffs’ on them prior to taking them down to jail, the “perp” crying out police brutality while denying they’ve committed a crime that they were caught in the middle of committing. Sometimes two or more patrol vehicles stopping at the same coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee to stay awake, exchanging information on what they’ve seen and what to watch for.
Underage teenagers breaking curfew, looking to get into mischief thinking they’ll never die, stealing a car to go on a high speed joy ride, do drugs, get drunk, spray painting graffiti on property that is not their own, members of a gang seeking revenge, runaways hoping for a better life from a home that had none or running from parents they though were too strict only to discover that life on their own was a dangerous existence but too proud to call their parents for help, but going further and further into dangerous waters.
Pimps watching for the next new batch of “young meat” getting off of out of town buses at the bus station, to add to their “stable”.
Old men either going home or going to work, sitting at bus stops holding their metal lunch pails, their shoulders bent with the weight of their years of trying to make a living, staring with eyes that no longer see anything except the hopelessness of their lives, and at the ground that is covered with litter and debris that the street cleaners had overlooked, occasionally looking up to see if their bus is coming.
Old women sitting on their chairs next to their windows looking out at the narrow existence of their world, their arms resting on the window sills, trying to capture a bit of coolness or fresh air from their stifling, old cooked food smelling apartments, wondering where did their youth go.
Firemen fully rigged out riding the engines to a call for help to beat down the flaming red monsters that threatens to devour a home or a life, some of the men holding on to the back of the engine like cowboys on a dangerously tamed horse, EMT’s and their vehicles “flying” through the night with a precious life inside trying to sustain it and hopefully succeeding.
Musicians unloading their gear in preparation for their nightly gig and always keeping one man on watch to make sure nothing is stolen in a “5 finger discount” attempt, while people are lining up to get into an illegal dance club to dance their troubles away, unaware that where they are dancing may become a fiery death trap.
Lovers fighting; she swinging her purse at him or something heavier that will let him know she is serious, yelling at him words that can not be repeated in polite company, exposing his perfidy and crying in her heart-broken hysteria and him, trying to get away, calling her “unreasonable” and a few other choice words, because he went to bed with her best friend because her best friend was willing.
And other night people who shared the night shift as I did, doing good or evil or just trying to survive. I’d see them all as the Blue Hour turned into night becoming darker and my bus would take me further into this world.
I learned quickly how to become one with the night, how to protect myself, to find safe havens if needed, to avoid being accosted, I learned how to not give the appearance of becoming a victim, to project an energy that I was not to be tampered with.
Eventually I recognized the regulars, they would leave me alone, or in some cases protect me from those who didn’t know I had a legitimate job to go to. I learned to spot possible trouble makers, I discovered that by looking directly at them they realized their advantage of surprise was gone, I would frequently turn around to check the way I came, I never carried a purse, too much of a temptation, the only thing was a plastic bag with my night meal, eventually my brother created a cloth dispatch bag that had the symbol for dangerous bio waste for me to carry my food, and I was never tampered with.
I considered the rain at night an additional protection in the dark, and blessed it as it washed away the garbage, the smell of urine or of rotting things that one did not want to know.
In time it became a way of life for me, a night creature; that’s when I started wearing things like spider and scorpion pins, skulls and bats, the night became second nature to me, and I welcomed the blue hour to give me a brief bit of beauty even though it was a signal to the dangerous on-coming darkness.
These many years later with changes in my life, I still find that I am that night creature, but my surroundings have changed both from where I lived before as I started out in my adult life and metamorphosing in the changes in my work through various jobs, although I still take on protections, but the Blue Hour of my mature years is different now compared to then.
I see it in all its beauty discovering in my mature years, that it is like sunrise but in reverse. It is first herald by the honking of the Farallon Geese as they fly in ragged formation to their night nesting grounds, then I see the light slowly retreating back, back, growing darker and darker, the fingers of light shrink, diminish and curl away from the landscape, I watch the sky as it turns from its pale sky blue and slowly as if Night draws her cloak across the heavens, turns a darker and darker blue until it reaches a moment of perfection where time seems to be suspended.
It is then I see that deep dark “Maxfield Parrish blue” so hard to achieve in the mundane world, but nature shows it in all its magnificence. Down at the horizon, banded shades of gold, pinks and purples bleeding into that blue, it seems as if night is beginning to swallow me into its protective darkness.
I hear the final peepings of the birds, the occasional cawing of the crows marking territory and watch as they wing their way back to their nests to settle into sleep, as the stars come out opening their twinkling lights, revealing the constellations and the hidden stories they tell.
I hear various neighbors’ cars returning home, a voice calling out to someone waiting for them, the occasional squeal of happiness from a small child, a few pots and pans’ clanging as someone is preparing dinner.
If it’s warm enough I’ll hear the sounds of the night insects’ cicada and crickets, there is a pond or ditch somewhere nearby that tiny frogs would hide and croak their amphibian song and for a moment I forget I’m in the city but someplace else.
The cat that I will not claim shows up and meows tentatively for a bit of dinner which I give him, then he goes off in search of an unwary mouse, giving in to his primitive urges before settling into his hidden spot under the porch to sleep, Belladonna watches from a careful distance, but she gets her evening meal as well and wolfs it down quickly to make sure the cat will not steal any of it, then contentedly lays at my feet with eyes drowsily closed allowing her nose to capture the floating scents to send to her silent messages to her brain of the immediate world around her.
The Koi fish for my eventual pond in their temporary pool flip and splash catching an insect that flew too close to the water, an evening meal for their greedy little maws.
If the wind is just right I can hear the ships’ horns that are docked in deep water off the Bay, or in the estuary echoing a warning to all and sundry “I’m here, I’m here, beware, beware”, a cool breeze begins to lift and swirls around me as the Earth cools down.
That same wind also sends to me the sounds of the night train as it’s diesel horn blows warnings at the crossings, to let the unwary know of the behemoth bearing down on the metal rails, yet the train horn sounds like a lost and lonely voice, beckoning those lonely travelers to join its travels to places far away.
A neighbor’s night blooming jasmine sends its scent out into the night air to entice night flying insects to pollinate its blooms and gives forth a heady aroma that causes my head to loll back in repose in my chair.
Briefly my thoughts go back to my day, encased in a bubble and whatever troubled me I release it into the dark blueness of the oncoming night, it is done and what is done is done and cannot be undone, unless I’m seeking a remedy and it is at this time solutions are found in contemplating the oncoming stillness and silence that the Blue Hour brings. Once completed, I find my soul at peace, or it simply is at peace knowing that I am wrapped by the oncoming darkness and I take it on as a protective cloak.
Now I welcome the Blue Hour to contemplate, reflect, to blend in and be absorbed by it, clean now from all the despair I had to work with from before, now to unwind from the busyness of the day and to be truly me, to spread myself on the night wind and allow it to carry me to lands undreamed of.